Saturday, April 30, 2011

Moving Day




Thank God, not for me! But for 2 family members and a good friend - which on top of helping LuLu move a couple weeks ago - means I'm over moving... Though it's nice to get a little unwanted by them - but much needed by me - swag!




For some reason - every time moving comes up I for some reason think of this Richard Pryor film. I have vague memories of watching it long ago - but couldn't tell you anything about it - but still it haunts me. Has anyone heard of it? Seen it? Like it? Or is it one of those bad 80's films that we've all erased from our collective conscience?




I only really recall watching ONE Richard Pryor film - and that was SILVER STREAK - and I ALWAYS tuned in at the same spot... When Gene Wilder paints his face and starts pretending to be black. Which always made me go - what the hell?




Anyway... Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

P is for... [part 2]


Before it ever arrived in the U.S., this epic, animated 1997 fantasy had already made history as the top-grossing domestic feature ever released in Japan, where its combination of mythic themes, mystical forces, and ravishing visuals tapped deeply into cultural identity and contemporary, ecological anxieties. For international animation and anime fans, Princess Mononoke represents an auspicious next step for its revered creator, Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service), an acknowledged anime pioneer, whose painterly style, vivid character design, and stylized approach to storytelling take ambitious, evolutionary steps here.

Set in medieval Japan, Miyazaki's original story envisions a struggle between nature and man. The march of technology, embodied in the dark iron forges of the ambitious Tatara clan, threatens the natural forces explicit in the benevolent Great God of the Forest and the wide-eyed, spectral spirits he protects. When Ashitaka, a young warrior from a remote, and endangered, village clan, kills a ravenous, boar-like monster, he discovers the beast is in fact an infectious "demon god," transformed by human anger. Ashitaka's quest to solve the beast's fatal curse brings him into the midst of human political intrigues as well as the more crucial battle between man and nature.



Miyazaki's convoluted fable is clearly not the stuff of kiddie matinees, nor is the often graphic violence depicted during the battles that ensue. If some younger viewers (or less attentive older ones) will wish for a diagram to sort out the players, Miyazaki's atmospheric world and its lush visual design are reasons enough to watch. For the English-language version, Miramax assembled an impressive vocal cast including Gillian Anderson, Billy Crudup (as Ashitaka), Claire Danes (as San), Minnie Driver (as Lady Eboshi), Billy Bob Thornton, and Jada Pinkett Smith. They bring added nuance to a very different kind of magic kingdom. Recommended for ages 12 and older. (synopsis provided by Amazon.com)



directed by Hayao Miyazaki



released 1997

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weekend Viewing - April 23-24, 2011

I watched BIRDEMIC & TROLL 2 on Saturday night – details of which I posted on Sunday. We were going to watch my blu-ray of HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PT. 1 but obviously – it got a little late for a 3 hour film (or half a film).

Sunday – it was HEREAFTER and THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS – both fairly solid films – with flaws on both.



HEREAFTER is another absolutely magnificent directing effort by Clint Eastwood – he lets his characters work their story. Clint is an actor’s director – he appreciates what it was like for him to be in front of that camera – and knows what it takes to pull the performance of the actors out of a solid story. The story is what kind of lets down HEREAFTER – it is good – but there’s not as strong of a thread connecting everyone – and the kind of hidden epiphanies that they go through didn’t work for me.


THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS was all right – certainly not as good as I thought it would be. The film probably suffers from the fact that I’ve seen a lot of films that followed and copied it – and that simply made me feel like this film was weak. Daniel Day Lewis is a great actor – but I wanted more scene chewing. (C’mon – take a big bite, Danny! Nom nom nom!) The action was pretty good – fairly intense – yet disjoined in parts that made me just not enjoy the film for all that it was. It’s something I will probably rent later to take a second glance – as it’s one I will probably think about for a little while.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

P is for...


Sometimes a movie achieves such legendary status that it can't quite live up to its reputation. Plan 9 from Outer Space is not one of these movies. It is just as magnificently terrible as you've heard. Plan 9 is the story of space aliens who try to conquer the Earth through resurrection of the dead. Psychic Criswell narrates ("Future events such as these will affect you in the future!") as police rush through the cemetery, occasionally clipping the cardboard tombstones in their zeal to find the source of the mysterious goings-on. More than just a bad film, Plan 9 is something of a one- stop clearinghouse for poor cinematic techniques: The time shifts whimsically from midnight to afternoon sun, Tor Johnson flails desperately in an attempt to rise from his coffin, and flying saucers zoom past on clearly visible strings. Fading star Bela Lugosi tragically died during filming, but such a small hurdle could not stop writer-producer-director Ed Wood. Lugosi is ingeniously replaced with a man who holds a cape across his face and might as well have "NOT BELA LUGOSI" stamped on his forehead.Plan 9 is so sweetly well- intentioned in both its message and its execution that it's impossible not to love it. And if you don't, well, as Eros says, "You people of Earth are idiots!" (synopsis provided by Amazon.com)


directed by Edward Wood Jr.

released 1958

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Birdemic [2008]



I'm really not quite sure what I can say about this film that hasn't already been said - or is apparent by any viewing of any section of this film. It's bad - and deserves that distinction of badness in every right - except for the fact it was made by an amateur. There is practically zero redeeming qualities to this film - but its badness that carries you through.

So, the couple meets up - goes out on a few dates - and after they have sex in a no-tell-motel - birds start to attack and blow up the town!!!


The editing was a constant source of amusement - the lack of any sound editing was also a big laugh - the lighting was horrible - one character lit perfectly the next blurry. If they would've invested in a second camera to keep the continuity of the conversation flowing between the characters instead of shooting each line separate - the entire film would've improved by 75%.


The bird effects - bad! The gun effects - bad! The character development - bad!


It's really hard to distinct that this is a bad film compared to films that were actually made prior to home video editing software. This film if edited professionally - would've been plain bad - not in the conversation with a PLAN 9 or a TROLL 2 - but we watched this back-to-back with TROLL 2 - and you know TROLL 2 actually looked like competent filmmaking. Neither had much of a story - but it was superior and not as comical because it had competency and not the air of someone shooting this with a camcorder and editing it at home.


But anyway - if birds are attacking - I will not have an outdoor picnic! Or stop by every car that's pulled over on the side of the road to see what's up! I would keep driving - just like every other car that's in this film - unaffected by the birds attacking. It's like the birds are only attacking this very small California town because they are mad about global warming and all - but everyone else is going about their business because they aren't a part of the movie - they are just in the background because this is some guy and a video camera on the side of the road shooting his friends "act".


An electric powered Mustang?????? Let's stop at the woods because birds don't live in the woods... You saw a creek as you were driving by - and it was that much of a hike into the woods???? What's up with the bird expert on the bridge??? And the tree hugger??? And Susan???? My name is Susan!!! SUSAN!!! Argh!!! I'm still buzzed and trying to write this for Sunday before I go to bed - and I think I will have those fucking bird sound effects going through my brain for the rest of the week!


Obviously, this was a poor Hitchcock homage - made by an amateur filmmaker - but it still ranks up there with some of the worst films I've ever seen - but it doesn't mean I didn't laugh my ass off and have a good time watching it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

This is the Zodiac speaking...

I’m currently reading ZODIAC UNMASKED by Robert Graysmith – I finished his first ZODIAC book a couple months ago – and I’m gearing up to watch David Fincher’s ZODIAC film. The books are very well written and interesting to see from the first hand – and it’s easy to see how Graysmith got so wrapped up in the mystery of it all. Reading the books is also bringing to light – how very well made Fincher’s film is.

Fincher captures not only the mania surrounding the ZODIAC killer – but also the obsession of Graysmith – and how it ate away at Avery, Toschi and Armstrong – the lack of cooperation between the various jurisdictions not realizing the fact that the killer was planning on them to not cooperate so it would make his secrets easier to maintain.

You’d naturally think that in a serial killer film – it’s the crimes, the killer and the cops that take center stage – and the investigation is only a by-product of all of those things – a way to fill the middle of the film. What’s really interesting about this case is that the killer shows up – taunts everyone - and then disappears – leaving everyone to wonder and the complexity of the entire investigation is what is interesting.




As I’m reading the second book – I keep flashing to the scenes in the film – it’s beautiful how the two are really playing off each other so very well. Fincher’s capturing the era of the late 60’s/early 70’s – is outstanding – the constant doubt if they are on the right path.

Graysmith goes on in the books to link various unsolved murders in Northern California to the lead suspect and his habits – and draws a much thicker stronger line in the sand saying that his suspect IS the killer. The evidence all points to it – and it’s hard to argue – but the fact that there hasn’t been a definitive swab of DNA or finger print makes it remain a mystery still.

Guns, bombs, articles on Zodiac, articles on how to successfully plea an insanity defense, recipe cards that have the same misspellings as do the Zodiac letters, a Zodiac divers watch the only other place than the letters that feature word Zodiac and the crosshair symbol – all pulled from the main suspects home in a search warrant weeks before his death. The suspect’s psychiatrist claims to have heard his confession in session over and over. The suspect’s brother, sister in-law, friends and former associates all claiming to suspect him for various reasons – up to claiming he wants to hunt humans and call himself Zodiac – or bragging that he IS Zodiac. The fact that the suspect was one of the first interviewed as a suspect in one of the early murders – only to be ruled out by a “gut feeling” – and no note remains as to why he was fingered.





This is all interesting and damning – but hardly a court case to be made to be a serial killer.

Fincher keeps the mystery going until the very end – then even at the end gives us a bit of an ellipsis – a cute little wink by saying that the suspect died before he was brought in or charged – which is enough to place a little doubt.

I’m willing to argue that ZODIAC is Fincher’s best film. I think it’s fair to say that Fincher’s best film is generally regarded as SE7EN. Don’t get me wrong - SE7EN is a really good film – it has solid acting – an interesting plot - it’s dark and gory and interesting - and has a really strong twist ending that wraps the story – but ZODIAC doesn’t have all that the powerful ending – but it remains AS strong missing those “shocking” elements. I think if you strip out the shock elements out of SE7EN – it doesn’t hold up.

It’s such an subjective argument though – so arguing that it’s a “better” film is not really valid. You can’t strip out part of a film and then really judge it as a film because the film is an entire work. I could judge the films more easily based on my “liking” one better than the other – and ZODIAC is certainly becoming my favorite of Fincher’s films and that’s more what I’m about than judging which is “better” for reasons of which I have to inflict on the film.





When I finally finish ZODIAC UNMASKED going to pair Fincher’s film up with DIRTY HARRY and make it a double feature – as it’s a bit of an homage to the Zodiac case – but in the end Harry gets his Zodiac (Gemini killer).

So much for due process, huh, Toschi?




[27-Apr-2011 edit: of course I meant Scorpio not Gemini - I was thinking of the Exorcist film (the 3rd) that had the homage to Zodiac in it and THAT homage was named Gemini - not the Dirty Harry homage which was Scorpio]

Friday, April 22, 2011

Logan's Run [1976]




In the year 2274 people live in a society encapsulated in a dome – there is everything you can hope – no disease – encouraged random sex encounters – and no old age. That’s not because they have discovered the fountain of youth – but because of the ritual death sentence once you turn 30. Some embrace it as part of life – some run. Logan is a “sandman” (assigned to stop the runners) – Logan is given a mission to find the underground – where all the lost runners have ended up. This turns Logan from a hunter to the hunted – this is Logan’s “run”.

I quite liked LOGAN’S RUN – I found it fun and interesting – though incredibly dated. The jumpsuits – the inside of the dome looks much like shopping mall “of the future” (pretty much like Epcot Center) – the special effects were pretty cheesy especially the robot that looked like the maid on the Jetson’s – the old studio looking props and matte paintings were clean and tacky – the actors were obviously over 30 in a society that emphasizes youth under 30 - but all that adds a certain charm that is usually found only in sci-fi from the studios in the 70’s.




Of course the obvious message is that our society values youth – but it’s also a totalitarian society – where some unseen forces or group is controlling everything that happens in their little city. I’m interested in that aspect of the film – was it supposed to be inferred that the computers were controlling the society completely? I expected at the end of the film – that this issue would’ve been dealt with in more detail – that’d we’d know that the society is ultimately hopeless to be saved or if a force would try to keep the status quo.

The society as a whole felt like infants – very trusting – but I guess that’s what you’d want if you were to have this society – everyone that “programmed” that everything can work on its own.




The direction of the film was interesting – this film was pre-STAR WARS – so it had its pace – a pace that really wouldn’t have cut it in a post-STAR WARS world of science-fiction filmmaking. The acting was very soap opera – nothing special – a good hearty “ha ha ha” for when they laugh – and nicely shouted and well emphasized speeches. The action mostly involved running into a room – slapping each other – someone getting a dramatic push to the ground – and that’s about it.

No! I still find this film quite fun and entertaining – and no matter what I say to make it sound like cheese – I’m standing by my enjoyment. I mean it is cheese – but hell – it’s fun – and isn’t that what you want from a movie? I hear there are rumbles to remake it with Ryan Gosling in the lead – and that sounds like a lot of fun too – as long as they stick to the story and don’t try to make too much out of it. There’s no reason we need to franchise this as an action summer blockbuster series – not when there’s GoBots and MASK waiting to be turned into movies.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

O is for... [part 2]



One of the key movies of the 1970s, when exciting, groundbreaking, personal films were still being made in Hollywood, Milos Forman's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest emphasized the humanistic story at the heart of Ken Kesey's more hallucinogenic novel. Jack Nicholson was born to play the part of Randle Patrick McMurphy, the rebellious inmate of a psychiatric hospital who fights back against the authorities' cold attitudes of institutional superiority, as personified by Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). It's the classic antiestablishment tale of one man asserting his individuality in the face of a repressive, conformist system--and it works on every level. Forman populates his film with memorably eccentric faces, and gets such freshly detailed and spontaneous work from his ensemble that the picture sometimes feels like a documentary. Unlike a lot of films pitched at the "youth culture" of the 1970s, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest really hasn't dated a bit, because the qualities of human nature that Forman captures--playfulness, courage, inspiration, pride, stubbornness--are universal and timeless. The film swept the Academy Awards for 1976, winning in all the major categories (picture, director, actor, actress, screenplay) for the first time since Frank Capra's It Happened One Night in 1931.



A nice rest in a state mental hospital beats a stretch in the pen, right? Randle P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), a free-spirited con with lightning in his veins and glib on his tongue, fakes insanity and moves in with what he calls the "nuts." Immediately, his contagious sense of disorder runs up against numbing routine. No way should guys pickled on sedatives shuffle around in bathrobes when the World Series is on. This means war! On one side is McMurphy. On the other is soft-spoken Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher), among the most coldly monstrous villains in film history. At stake is the fate of every patient on the ward. Based on Ken Kesey's acclaimed bestseller, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest swept all five major 1975 Academy Awards: Best Picture (produced by Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas), Actor (Nicholson), Actress (Fletcher), Director (Milos Forman) and Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman). Raucous, searing and with a superb cast that includes Brad Dourif, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd in his film debut, this one soars. (synopsis provided by Amazon.com)



directed by Milos Forman

released 1975

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Films of Romance




This entry is brought to you by LuLu Danger and cblaze


I tend to blog mostly about “guy” movies – so I figured after my recent trip – and finally getting to spend some time with my girl, LuLu Danger, I figured I should make a point to blog about rom-coms with her.


As the Blockbuster in the area was closing – I went in and decided that I would stock up on some romantic comedies for my LuLu. The movies were only $3 each – so I took a chance on films I had not seen – and picked up FOUR CHRISTMASES, A GOOD YEAR, LAST CHANCE HARVEY, THE YELLOW HANKERCHEIF and THE WAITRESS


A GOOD YEAR: directed by Ridley Scott and staring Russell Crowe set in France – Russell plays a big shot who inherits a villa and vineyard – intent on selling it – he instead falls in love with it and a local girl.


cblaze says: Out of curiosity of Ridley Scott’s involvement – I watched this one on my own – and I was pleasantly surprised. It was quite good and made me happy. It followed the romantic comedy formula – of girl hates guy – but then falls madly in love with guy when he changes his shallow ways. Scott didn’t bring much to it as a director – but it must have been a nice change of pace for them to work together on something low-key.


LuLu Danger says: I agree that the movie was predictable, but that predictable recipe is what makes the romantic comedy the comfort food of movies. There are no big surprises, the couple finds love and rides off into the blissful sunset to live happily ever after.


LAST CHANCE HARVEY: Harvey seems to be losing everywhere he turns – he’s being pushed out of his job – his family seems embarrassed by him – he misses his flight back to the US after his daughter’s wedding in London – and just when it all feels like it’s over for him and he’s going to drink himself into a coma – he meets Kate.


cblaze says: It was a cute film. They didn’t dig into what made Harvey such a losing character – especially with his family – but I guess that’s not as important – though it was up for debate between LuLu and I. It also wasn’t an “original” story (remember what I think about originality in films: it’s overrated) – but it was great because you wanted to see Harvey finally “win” – and that’s all that matters – likable characters and some fun.


LuLu Danger says: I thought Harvey and Kate were a little too safe, likeable, but bland. The movie was cute, and life worked out in the end for Harvey and Kate. The best part of this movie was getting to watch it with cblaze over a few Summer Shandys.


cblaze says: I’ve seen THE WAITRESS a while back – don’t remember that much of it other than I thought it as cute and remembered that the writer/director/co-star was murdered ¾’s of the way through making the film. I had not seen THE YELLOW HANKERCHEIF but if our weekend worked out like planned I would’ve liked to have watched it with you. As for FOUR CHRISTMASES - not so interested.


LuLu Danger says: Have not seen the Waitress. Four Christmases was dumb, but had its merits in staring Vince Vaughn, whom I have a secret crush on. It effectively will kill about an hour and a half of your time and you can nod off for about 45 minutes of that, and not miss much. The Yellow Handkerchief was wonderful, sweet and quirky. I loved it. I can watch this one again and again. I love the romantic comedy. They are safe, fun and predictable….just what a girl needs after a hard day of fighting crime.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

O is for...


In the realm of revenge thrillers, you'd be hard pressed to find more ultra-violent vengeance and psycho thrills than in the creepy story of Oldboy. This Korean import made a pop splash at the Cannes Film Festival and during its limited theatrical run thanks to the imprimatur of Quentin Tarantino, who raved about it and its visionary director, Chan-wook Park, to anyone who would listen. It's easy to see why QT fell in love with the grindhouse attitude, fast-paced action, violent imagery, and icy-black humor, but it's a disservice to think ofOldboy as another Tarantino homage or knockoff. The darkly existential undercurrent in the themes that Oldboy traces over its life-long narrative arc is much more complex and deeply disturbing than anything of its kind. The movie's tagline is, "15 years of imprisonment... 5 days of vengeance." The imprisonee is Oh Dae-Su, an ordinary Joe who is snatched off a Seoul street corner and locked away in a dank, windowless fleabag hotel room for the aforementioned 15 years. Just as abruptly he is released, and thus the five days begin. Why did this happen to Oh Dae-Su? Ah, but that would be telling, and in fact we don't know ourselves until the final wrenching scenes.

Oldboy breaks into a classic three-act saga, the first of which details the hallucinatory period of imprisonment in which Oh Dae-Su wades from mild insanity to outright psychosis in the hands of unseen yet attentive captors. Act 2 is the revenge, when an entirely different tone takes over and Oh Dae-Su moves with single-minded purpose and clarity. It's this section that has gained the most notoriety, primarily for the claw-hammer dentistry scene, the one-man-army tracking shot, and the wriggling octopus that Oh Dae-Su consumes in a sushi bar (he's been dead so long he simply needs life back inside him in any way possible). In act 3, answers finally start to emerge and the sinister atmosphere grows even more profound--not without a healthy dose of extra bloodletting, of course. Oldboy is an undeniably poetic masterpiece of tension, fury, and dynamic craft. Ultimately, its epic cycle of tragedy is of the sort that mankind has been inflicting upon itself for all time. Some of the images may be gruesome, but all converge into a kind of beauty. It's in the telling of this lurid tale that these details become one and the memories of pain ultimately heal. (synopsis provided by Amazon.com)


directed by Park Chanwook


released 2003

Monday, April 18, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tell 'em Large Marge sent ya!


Hi, I'm Pee Wee - and I lost my bicycle. If you see me that means cblaze is helping me find my bicycle - and is too lazy to update his blog. If you see posts after me over the weekend - that means you all were very lucky that a hint of inspiration has struck - but if the next post you see is Monday - enjoy the Muzak! Ha ha!



Sincerely,

Pee Wee Herman

Thursday, April 14, 2011

N is for... [part 2]


We can hardly imagine how shocking this film was when it first broke into the film scene in 1968. There's never been anything quite like it again, though there have been numerous pale imitations. Part of the terror lies in the fact that it is shot in such a raw and unadorned fashion that it feels like a home movie, and is all the more authentic because of that. It draws us into its world gradually, content to establish a merely spooky atmosphere before leading us through a horrifically logical progression that we hardly could have anticipated. The story is simple: Radiation from a fallen satellite has caused the dead to walk, and hunger for human flesh. Once bitten, you become one of them. And the only way to kill one is by a shot or blow to the head. We follow a group holed up in a small farmhouse who are trying to fend off the inevitable onslaught of the dead. The tension between the members of this unstable, makeshift community drives the film. Night of the Living Dead establishes savagery as a necessary condition of life. Marked by fatality and a grim humor, the film gnaws through to the bone, then proceeds on to the marrow. (synopsis provided by Amazon.com)


directed by George Romero

released 1968

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

100 Reasons Why I Love the Movies



1. The end of any Wes Anderson film where he shows the entire cast in one grand ending scene.

2. “You just shot an unarmed man!” “He should’ve armed himself then.”

3. Watching a film over and over – realizing that I’m not just fascinated by it for seemingly unknown reasons – I’m actually falling in love with it.

4. Jesus Franco’s use of the zoom

5. SAUL!!!

6. Hubcap shaped flying saucers

7. Toshiro Mifune + Akira Kurosawa

8. Well composed cinematography that makes every still shot look great as a stand-alone picture

9. Kermit the Frog riding a bicycle

10. Albert Brooks version of purgatory in DEFENDING YOUR LIFE

11. Indiana Jones brings a pistol to the sword fight

12. The room stretching opening to SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD and how that shot wasn’t CGI

13. The choreography of not only the action but direction and editing of Rieko Ike’s nude sword fight in SEX & FURY

14. Going to an early weekday matinee

15. Ennio Morricone’s score for THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY

16. Steve McQueen’s car skidding out at the end of the chase in BULLIT

17. “I kick arse for the Lord!”

18. Dirty Harry Callahan lecturing his partner about it being wrong to put ketchup on a hot dog

19. Watching older films on the big screen

20. Quoting PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE like I was still 10-years old

21. Dario Argento use of color in SUSPIRIA

22. Grindhouse Experience/Exploitation Cinema double feature DVD releases with the trailers in-between

23. The intensity of Klaus Kinski

24. Ed Wood Jr. explaining his struggle to make PLAN 9 to Orson Welles in ED WOOD

25. Koryu Lee’s inability to save anyone in any of the SISTER STREET FIGHTER films

26. The use of puppets, stop-motion animation and animatronics instead of CGI

27. When actors learn to play an instrument for a role

28. Getting to see the world after the apocalypse

29. Brendan Gleeson

30. Danny Boyle directing and mastering a film from a different genre every film

31. Science fiction with social commentary

32. Christina Lindberg’s outfit in THRILLER

33. When a truly horrible villain gets the gruesome end they deserve

34. B-Movie/Grindhouse film posters

35. Staying up for hours reworking the story of the STAR WARS prequels with my brother

36. The Hoover family and their VW Bus

37. Morgan Freeman’s narration on THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

38. Finding out Cate Blanchett actually had a speaking role in HOT FUZZ

39. Meiko Kaji

40. Over-the-top Luc Besson action films

41. Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary tracks

42. “Know why I know this is a shit idea? Because it’s obviously a shit idea!”

43. Figuring out the film half-way through – and being 100% correct – but loving the ride anyway

44. Rooting for the curmudgeon to change his ways

45. Walking into a movie blind and being surprised

46. Filmmakers who take a bleak premise and make you feel optimistic

47. The fantasy worlds of Jim Henson

48. Godzilla stomping on model buildings

49. The drive-in experience

50. 42nd Street Forever DVD’s – two solid hours of exploitation film trailers

51. Whatever Ripley was singing while putting on her space suit at the end of ALIEN

52. Viggo Mortensen

53. The lost goblin in the hallway in TROLL 2

54. The different angles at which you can watch truly great movies and the different metaphors you can spot

55. Orson Welles smashing through the floor to get the camera angle just right for a shot in CITIZEN KANE

56. “Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, no job is too big, no fee is too big!”

57. When someone talks about an obscure movie – and you look at them and say “Oh yeah! I know that one!”

58. The chess scene in the original THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR

59. Countess Nadina sunbathing

60. BLADE RUNNER’s art direction

61. Terry Gilliam’s imagination

62. The fury of Franco Nero

63. “…I will find you and I will kill you.” … “Good luck.”

64. Watching a film with my father

65. Scarlett Johansson

66. Great performances are never lost

67. Denzel Washington in MAN ON FIRE

68. The mud stacking peasants in MONTY PYTHON’S HOLY GRAIL

69. Overly complicated revenge plots – such as putting a bunch of motherfucking snakes on a motherfucking plane

70. Geum-ja’s pistol

71. The police chief who always curses out the hero cop

72. Weapons hidden in Coffy’s afro

73. The tension built up in the eyes for the duel in the graveyard in THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY

74. How you never want to be X many days from retirement as a cop

75. How the investigation is more interesting than the crimes in ZODIAC

76. When Lars finally met a real girl

77. Any Pixar feature film

78. Movie premise: A world famous bouncer is recruited to clean up a bar

79. Clint riding into town out of the heat waves of the desert

80. Seeing Chicago all over THE DARK KNIGHT

81. Leaving the audience the build up to but not the answer to the last question before the credits roll

82. “This is my boomstick!”

83. The ZOMBIELAND cameo

84. The way Karl talks

85. John Phillip Law’s laugh in SPACE MUTINY

86. “You’re an inanimate fucking object!”

87. The crowd chanting “Mo cuishle”

88. Lina Romay’s smirk

89. Finally having the answer to who would win in a fight between Freddy & Jason

90. Watching people worse off than you or I make it through

91. Films that could only be made outside of Hollywood

92. Stan Winston’s creature shops

93. Bob Hoskin’s uncomfortable car ride in THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY

94. Danny the Dog

95. Pedro Almodovar’s mother issues make great films

96. After our hero is told by everyone they can’t do it – they do

97. The writing and directing of Tom McCarthy

98. Trying to find meaning in the reason why a certain movie is someone’s favorite…

99. …Trying to figure out the deeper meanings as to why my favorite is my favorite

100. Pressing play on what will soon become one of my favorite films

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

N is for...


This Jack Black vehicle seems, on the surface, like a perfect fit for the actor: an opportunity to showcase Black's unique style with the extreme facial gestures and exuberant physicality that have become his forte. Black plays Ignacio, a lowly cook in a monastery in central Mexico who feeds orphans by day, and wrestles in the town square at night. Ignacio teams up with Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez), a street urchin who tormented him, to form a tag-team duo that goes up against the strangest wrestlers Mexico has to offer. Besides doing it for money to feed the orphans, Ignacio is also fighting to win the forbidden affections of Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera) with predictable difficulty. While the movie has likeable characters and the plot is enjoyable enough, it can’t overcome its plodding pace and formulaic structure enough to keep the movie interesting throughout. Jack Black is a very strong comedic actor, and the wrestling scenes offer plenty of chances for slapstick, physical comedy, but watching him run around in red briefs and blue tights amounts to half the laughs in the movie, and there’s just not enough here for him to really work with. When he plays a more well-formed character, as in School of Rock and High Fidelity, his strengths really show. But in Nacho Libre he’s saddled with a caricature. Weighed down by too much low-brow humor and a script that goes nowhere, Nacho Libre just can’t make full enough use of Black’s talents to overcome the obstacles. (synopsis provided by Amazon.com)


directed by Jarred Hess

released 2006

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Subterranean Homesick Alien



After a few good movie weekends and some blogging momentum - I feel awful - and have no interest or attention span for watching movies. Thus, it's making me push out my planned post until Wednesday... Shame it was a good one...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lost in America [1985]

After losing his job, David decides to cash out - and wander the country with his wife, Linda, only to discover it's easier said than done.



This is a quintessential tale of over-excess in the 1980's - where everyone feels they deserve more than what they've got - and they THINK if they can't get it - they'd rather have nothing. I'm a big fan of Albert Brooks - I really enjoy his humor - it's self-defacing and reflective in a good way. Brooks plays pretty much the same role in just about any of his films - he's got a sense of optimism but still quite neurotic about it. Brooks' energy is matched quite well by his co-star Julie Hagerty - who is mousy, neurotic but it turns out a little less as grounded than Brooks. Brooks' direction was good - but lingered on in certain scenes and is very dialogue based - that I felt that the ending was kind of sudden and a quick and easy write off of the little adventure they took.



The obsession with the film EASY RIDER was a bit overdone - as I'm not a fan of the free-spirit motorcycle film - but it makes sense that EASY RIDER is the thesis in part of this film. In the grand scope of this film - I feel it's successfully covers the wasted promise that is America - and had me in certain ways comparing it to FEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS more than EASY RIDER. It's also the thesis as to why though many of the worker bees - who may want to drop-out of the work force and be free - simply cannot.



It's a good movie - but only just a bit better than average - I'm giving it a 4 out of 5.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Arthur Reboot?



Does the Dudley Moore classic, Arthur, carry a certain weight that makes it a property that needs to be remade for a different generation? Or could they have made another drunk wealthy Englishman film – and called it something different as to not soil what was once a very charming film?


I know all these remakes are not geared toward me – and my generation – I get that. I also get that Hollywood is a money machine – but I just don’t see that the original Arthur had the name that would put more butts in the seats. The original was released in 1981 - the audience you are catering to with the casting of Russel Brand - wasn't a twinkle in the eye when the film Arthur carried any box office weight.


I make no beefs about disliking Russel Brand – but that’s not my beef with the remake of Arthur. My beef is – that you could’ve easily made a completely different film – which the more previews I see – the remake is a completely different film – and had it stand on its own right instead of trying to drag Dudley Moore into this.


I’m actually feeling that this is a dis-service to the actors – even though I don’t believe that Russel Brand isn’t that much of an actor. Why not create your own legacy as a filmmaker – and Russel Brand his own character that wouldn’t be compared to Dudley Moore? Especially in a film like Arthur - where it's obvious that it's the character that's being remade - and not really the story.


My question is – where’s your balls Hollywood?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

M is for... [part 2]


Ever wonder if there was a class system in the world of superheroes? After all the big names like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, etc., who were the supporting players? The folks assigned to the less-than-stellar gigs of saving only a small part of the world? According to this intermittently successful send-up of comic book heroism, there are indeed masked heroes who struggle and toil for their moment in the super sun. Based on the Dark Horse comic book series, Mystery Men follows the travails of three B-list avengers--Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), the Shoveler (William H. Macy), and the Blue Raja (Hank Azaria)--as they fight to make themselves known to the citizens of Champion City, quite difficult to do when the flashy Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear, never better) takes all the cool gigs and has product endorsements up the ying-yang. According to them, it's all a matter of timing--never mind that Mr. Furious never rises above a snit, or that the Blue Raja wears green. Their big break comes when Captain Amazing is abducted by the evil Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), and it's up to this motley crew to save Champion City.

Blessed with a wondrously gifted comic cast and full of droll details, Mystery Men struggles in fits and spurts towards its climax. Transcendently witty in parts, it's also woefully sophomoric in others. Literally, this is the kind of movie in which someone gets off a brilliant line and then sits on a fork. Still, when this movie is rolling, it's gleefully on target, thanks primarily to the mordantly cocky Stiller and Janeane Garofalo as a latecomer to the superhero gang; her secret weapon is a bowling ball in which her dead father's head is encased. The comic chemistry between these two is fierce, and when you add the dryly funny Macy and the endearing Azaria (who finally gets a chance to let loose with his comic gifts), it's a hilarious joyride. Too bad that the gas tank is only half-full; this stunning cast deserves a first-rate vehicle. With Tom Waits as a weapons expert, Claire Forlani as the requisite babe, and Paul Reubens as the Spleen, the world's most flatulent superhero. (synopsis provided by Amazon.com)


directed by Kinka Usher


released 1999

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wild Target [2010]



A no nonsense aging hitman goes out on a job – falls in love with his target – and causes everything to go all higgley piggley!


Billy Nighy is hilarious. Emily Blunt is fun. Rupert Grint is surprisingly great. Martin Freeman is pitch-perfect. Rupert Everett is serviceable. The script is less than great.


Actually – it’s more like the first part of the script is quite good – fun, engaging, interesting, fast paced – then it just loses energy and thus the characters deflate and become less interesting. Action films and comedies are tricky like that – you want your characters to be funny and entertaining throughout the film – but it takes a lot to mix that in when they are running around – so it turns out that they are only funny and engaging when they are doing stuff – when they stop doing stuff – there’s not much for the audience to grasp on to – because they essentially become different characters.


The main characters go and hide out for the last big chunk of the film – which stopped them from moving toward their goals – actually muddying their goals so it was unclear as to what you want to see each character doing – thus making them all kinds of boring. The revelation that Emily Blunt’s character had did not feel remotely in line with her character because of this lag in plot. I guess a calm in the action would cause a character to reflect and become self-aware – but there was no discernable action or revelation announced between the characters to justify her character’s change in behavior.


Rupert Grint was believable and fun – he seemed to understand that his gawky behavior as Ron Weasley, the affable boy wizard usually the butt of jokes, in the Harry Potter films – was not the same delivery needed for his uncomfortable behavior in this film. It may be comparing two different brands of the exact same thing – but I think it takes an apt hand to play it differently enough – as there’s a lot of one-note actors out there who play the same type of character the same way every time and are quite successful at it.


Bill Nighy was great – serious, socially awkward, absolutely deadpan – you could tell he had some fun in this role. I really couldn’t get enough of him in this role. I just wish there was more meat to the role for him. Sure, as the main character he did a lot – but when the action stopped – he did everything he could with the remainder of the role – but there wasn’t much left.


Would I recommend this film? Sure – it was fun enough – but I wouldn’t ask anyone to go out of their way for it. If you really wanted to watch something else – watch something else – but when you get to WILD TARGET – savor the fun beginning through to the end. 3 out of 5


directed by Jonathan Lynn

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

M is for...


The Road Warrior is already a classic, sans condescending genre distinctions like "sci-fi" or "action." But the story of Mel Gibson's stately antihero begins in Mad Max, George Miller's low-budget debut in which Max is a "Bronze" (cop) in an unspecified postapocalyptic future with a buddy-partner and family. But unlike most films set in the devastated future, Mad Max is especially notable because it is poised between our industrialized world and total regression to medieval conditions. The scale tips towards disintegration when the Glory Riders burn into town on their bikes like an overamped cadre of Brando's Wild Ones. Representing the active chaos that will eventually overwhelm the dying vestiges of civil society, they take everything dear to Max, who will exact due revenge. His flight into the same wilds that created the villains artfully sets up the morally ambiguous character of the subsequent films. (synopsis provided by Amazon.com)


directed by George Miller

released 1980

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hardware [1990]





In a post-apocalyptic wasteland – a scavenger brings a busted up android head to his girlfriend for use in her art – but it turns out the head isn’t dead – and that’s no maintenance bot!


The film started off with some potential – though it was quite dated. You know the kind of film – where the apocalypse happened in the 1980’s – and style hasn’t matured since or you know... changed due to atmospheric necessity. Yet, if it was just fashion – then we’d be fine – but the issues with the film went far deeper.


Conversation mostly revolved around filling in backstory of the reality of their world – which ruined quite a bit of the believability of the film. I think in the future with the sky red and world turned to shit – everyone would probably be used to it and casual conversation would continue like normal. Even after the most dramatic scene – instead of everyone looking around and being thankful and hugging – they began a heated argument about how evil the government is by creating that robot! Whoa! Hold the social commentary until the end of the film lady!


I did not care for the many false endings – the appearing and disappearing characters – the characters at large were uninteresting at best. The robot was interesting – but there seemed to be a few plot holes that I wish were addressed. Like if the robot was capable of recharging itself from almost any power source (like the sun – a example given in the film) and is capable of rebuilding itself – how come it didn’t do so while in the desert surrounded by its dismembered body parts? I hear it’s quite sunny in the desert at times. Or if you’re saying the red sky prevents the sun from coming in – then why make a robot that can be solar charged?


Toward the middle and end of the film – it just got tedious. Why was the robot taking its sweet ass time? It’s trapped in a small apartment with only one victim to kill – why just hang out? Her back is turned! Go get her! Why did the robot feel it needed to mutilate that one body? Robots aren’t sadistic – they are programmed to build cars, wash dishes, kill all humans or be sex toys. Why did the film try to get all surreal toward the end? It seemed like a straight forward robot killing machine film – why mess with that? It doesn’t fit – and felt tacked on in order to fill space and to fill in gaps in backstory.


I hated the voyeur pervert neighbor – and his stupid face – and his stupid song. Hate.


I did like the cameos from Iggy Pop as Angry Bob – Lemmy as the taxi driver – and them pimping their own music from The Stooges and Motorhead – as the characters. I liked the odd environments (felt like cheap Blade Runner sets) – and the drawn out sex scene – as well as the robot’s drill penis.


Overall – the film had too many things wrong with it in the direction department – otherwise the flaws I listed up above probably wouldn’t be that big of a problem to me. Hell, I like much worse films! NO! I LOVE much worse films! But the difference is – there’s energy to those films – they don’t pretend to be anything but they are not. They don’t go from straight action nonsense to – oh you’re tripping balls for a few minutes so we can fit in some plot points – back to watch out for the robot penis!


I’m giving it a 2 out of 5 – because it wasn’t redeemable enough.


directed by Richard Stanley

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Source Code [2011]


A soldier is sent into another man's body - on a doomed train - and given eight minutes to find the explosive and find the bomber - and if he doesn't succeed - the train blows up, the source code will reset and he will have to try again.


I really liked this film - it's not a puzzle movie - it's more of a trial and error build your own story kind of film. It doesn't really expect for you to fully understand the full reasonings as to how it's possible - and it doesn't linger too long on explanations - but provides a good enough one to let you just enjoy the film. I felt that the acting was great by all the leads - each provided an angle that was much needed to ground the film in a humanistic/emotional tale rather than merely a non-feeling run-a-round sci-fi caper. The direction was great - it kept the pacing up - kept you guessing and kept you interested throughout even as questions were answered. I can't name anything I didn't really care for - I guess there's some questions that I have in the total grand scheme of the film - but I think that's what they intended - and I kind of like that.



What I liked the most was the overall feeling of optimism - it could've been a very bleak film - but it wasn't. This is the first film I saw in the theater this year - and I'm giving it full marks - 5 out of 5



directed by Duncan Jones

Friday, April 1, 2011